I’m awfully afeared that the Scots will vote for independence, simply because humans have an inbuilt propensity for making bad decisions. Fiona Laird’s article in the Grauniad today (April 30th) was stonking, pointing out that we have to divorce Scottish independence from short-term politics: it’s forever, not like voting for the next 5-year government.
Tom Heap’s programme on Scotland’s power suggested that English/ Welsh fuel bills would see a sharp spike if the Scots detach themselves, as we’ll have to pay for new nuclear power stations (WHY does anyone think building new nuclears is a good idea?????), whereas much of the renewables infrastructure is already underway in Scotland, and renewables are cheaper to build, anyway. (I think I got that right.) In effect, we’re paying for Scotland’s past fuel consumption, because the Scots used the same sources as every other Brit and the decommissioning and recommissioning of power stations is all our expense. No doubt there are other cases like this: the rest of the UK will have to foot the bill, while the Scots go free.
If this is the case, surely Scottish independence should be voted on by every UK citizen?
So said a report in the Grauniad. That was just the headline grabber; the article was about the use of statistics, more than anything else. But the dog issue is interesting. There are a few reasons that people from deprived backgrounds and areas are more likely to be attacked by dogs. First, the breeds of dogs: fashionable amongst the masses at the moment are bull terriers. However nice Fifi is, she’s still a bull terrier. Just like our Toby, a greyhound: he’s a lovely hound, but he’ll eat your cat. He can’t help it, and there’s no training him out of it. Bull terriers have been bred for fighting and for cramping their powerful jaws over nice soft throats. Good training, from puppyhood (we only got Toby in adulthood, and you can’t teach an old dog…), and a happy home will probably mean that these jaws are kept to munching Winalot or teddy bears. But, second point, a lot of people – from whatever class/ background – don’t realise the amount of training that dogs need, and don’t realise that training’s often needed for the human as well as the dog. If you’re inconsistent at all, the dog will notice; if you don’t mean what you say, the dog will notice. You have to be alpha pack leader: that’s hard to pull off if you by nature are not, and most people are not: humans are pack animals too, and it stands to reason that more people will be led rather than lead. I have seen many people who are not in control of their dog, and there are times when I have not been in control of mine: entirely to do with me, and not the dog.
Thirdly, dogs need time and not to be left alone for huge periods of it. If you have to work and leave your dog home alone for hours, of course it’s going to have a negative effect on the dog. Fourthly, working breeds, such as terriers, need a lot of exercise – much more than a quick walk round the housing estate (they also need good food, not Bakers or Butchers or other similar crap; but this is expensive). Lastly, violence has a lot to do with things. Not necessarily physical or extreme violence, but the lack of quietness and contentment that accompanies lives full of scarcity. Households where shouting is the norm will not produce placid dogs.
Dogs are not playthings or toys: they are intelligent, working creatures.
The Germans/ Austrians had a more lasting relationship with the sackbutt and its child, the trombone, than the British, French or Italians. When Handel wanted trombones for Israel in Egypt, it’s thought that he employed a group of touring German Pausane players. St Mark’s in Venice, whose heyday was perhaps the time of Gabrieli, Monteverdi and large numbers of cornets and sackbutts, stopped employing trombonists in 1732. Germany, on the other hand, liked her brass, not just keeping the trombone in circulation, but inventing new instruments or preserving older weird ones. Bach used a high trumpet for the second Brandenburg (the trumpeter of the Bach Collegium Japan recreated it, with appalling effects) and the ‘lituo’ in his lovely O Jesu Christ, mein Lebens Licht. (No one seems to be sure what the ‘lituo’ was, but it’s some sort of horn.)
Long after Britain had to rely on wandering German trombonists and Italy had stopped its abundance of brass, Mozart used a trombone to be the Last Trumpet in ‘Tuba mirum spargens’ in his Requiem.
It’s depressing that something quite so wrong-headed can be not only discussed but encouraged by the government and parliament.
1) Who cares if a businessman can get to Birmingham or London half-an-hour sooner? Why the hell are they travelling anyway? Skype it or stay at home. We need to travel less if we are to get anywhere near the carbon cuts that we need to reach in order to survive in anything like a continuing society or even race…
2) Why do we need to provide yet another spoke to London? Apparently this HS2 will mean more business in the midlands and north west. Bollocks. It’ll just mean more commutable areas to London, with resultant rising house prices, etc.
3) Why do we need to batter our wildlife even more? It’s bad enough with all these extra houses which we ‘need’ (more bollocks: between empty homes and getting northerners and Scots back up north, we really have all the homes we need already), but HS2 will destroy ancient woodland and slice wildlife corridors. We are not the only species in Britain, and we can’t survive without all of the other ones.
Aaaaaaaaaaargh. When will Economics be seen for what it is: unsustainable hogwash?
The new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe is fabulous – the woodwork dotingly authentic, the ceiling work convincingly Renaissance. The play is an appropriate Jacobean comedy, with Jacobean costumes and a nice eye for period detail.
WHY was the music so anachronistic, then? There were a couple of echt Jacobean tunes (Jolly red nose, for example), but it was largely disgusting 20th-century saccharine – so much so that I was really put off the entertainment. It came from the backside of Nigel Hess, a TV composer of some merit, who really ought to have known better. The band was largely authentic, with a cornet, viols, gitarres – but not entirely: there was a modern violin. ?????
Emma Kirkby once pointed out, sadly, that TV and radio shows always used music of a later period than the one the programme was about. Whilst the Globe lot are super-careful about visual details, they don’t seem to care about the accuracy of musical accompaniment.
Why does music, of all the arts, have to suffer like this? Music was our first art; it is our premier art. Let’s all strive to be a little more musically literate.
Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph the scantily-clad woman on a display stand for some tool or other when I went into Mackay’s in Cambridge a couple of months ago, but here are some other delights:
And here was one I found on a graphic design website – definitely putting the ‘graphic’ into graphic design.
Where is the wall-of-shame website that I can post these on?
Parsnip Cake – yes, really. C MacD says ‘It is delicious but I’m not brave enough to put “Carrot or Parsnip Cake” on the menu – we still call it Kinloch Gateau.’ It’s from her book, Sweet Things.
“Just under 1/2 pt sunflower seed oil
12oz caster sugar [I only use 8oz – quite sweet enough]
6oz plain flour
1 level tspn each of bicarb, baking powder and cinnamon
1/2 level tspn salt
8oz grated raw parsnips [a large parsnip, of the sort we specialise in growing. They’re a bugger to get out of the ground.]
Filling and icing: 6oz each of cream cheese and butter
8oz icing sugar
1 tspn vanilla essence [a bit of lemon, too, I think]
8″ cake tin.
Mix sunflower oil and caster sugar thoroughly. Add eggs one by one. Add flour, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and then the parsnip. Put into cake tin; bake at moderate oven for c.45-50 mins. [Our oven temperature gauge has Hot or Very Hot. This was at the top end of Hot. About 180 or so.] (Do skewer test to see if cooked.) Turn onto wire rack. When cool, cut cake into 2 layers.
Whizz cream cheese and butter till smooth. Add icing sugar and vanilla essence and whizz till no lumps of sugar. (Can all be done by hand, if you’re feeling fit, but add icing sugar gradually, and then the vanilla.) Fill and ice the cake.
Better made a couple of days in advance.” [But you’ll have to hide it.]